Dr. Doug Posey
I think the “ye merry gentlemen” in the well-known Christmas carol would have had a hard time following through on the proposition to “let nothing you dismay” if they had heard of the town that opted to exchange the controversial greeting “Merry Christmas” for the more PC “Happy Sparkle Day!” It happened in Pittsburg. Dismaying to say the least.
Though many are not opposed to saying “Merry Christmas,” what really is the holiday’s significance for them? Is it more than sparkle, gifts, gathering with family and the hope of a year-end economic boost? They might not find the inclusion of Christ particularly offensive, but don’t try to convince them that Jesus was God in the flesh or anything like that! After all, He was a great guy and we should celebrate His birthday, but let’s not go overboard!
Does it really make any difference in celebrating Christmas if Jesus wasn’t actually born of a virgin? Would Christmas lose its magical appeal if the Lord didn’t actually descend from King David, or Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Does the tinsel on the tree lose any of its shimmer just because, perhaps Christ never, in fact, fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament? Or, honestly, if Jesus were just a myth—as many claim—does that mean Christmas isn’t still a great holiday anyway, well worth celebrating? It’s tradition!
Well, unfortunately it seems that for tens of thousands, the truth about Jesus is a superfluous component of the Christmas experience. Christ has been so well hidden and overshadowed by Santa, reindeer, snowmen, elves, “Christmas” songs and movies that have nothing to do with that once-famous and revered birth in Bethlehem, He’s hardly missed. Does it really matter?
It may not matter to those for whom “Happy Holidays” is an acceptable substitute for “Merry Christmas.” In fact, many who gladly greet with “Merry Christmas” may not care, until they’re really looking for the only One that can assure them far more than gifts under a decorated tree. Christ missing from Christmas is hardly anything to get upset about, until you recognize your own sinfulness and need for a Savior. When heaven is in the offing, there are some facts about Jesus that become crucial. He is no longer expendable. In fact, all the facts about Jesus begin to carry the weight of eternity. He must have the right credentials.
There are those who try to deal with His apparent messianic credentials by saying that he plotted to make it appear as though He were the Messiah by cleverly making sure He was at the right places at the right times. Apparently, this would include making sure He was nailed to a cross, thrust through with a spear and all the while in control of what those around Him said and did. After the coincidence of having descended from the right ancestors and then being born in the right city, all He had to do was follow the script laid out in the Law and Prophets; the ultimate con job.
However, there’s one minor detail—those pesky predictions about the Messiah’s lineage, birth and early life can’t be easily cast aside as a serendipitous and coincidental springboard from which He could launch His deceptive scheme. If every prediction leading up to His conscious effort to con us were mere coincidence, He would have defied the laws of probability far beyond what is mathematically possible. For example, the chances of one man coincidentally fulfilling only eight of the over 300 predictions about the Messiah have been calculated to be a probability of 1 in 10 to the 157th power. Anything with those odds is considered way, way past impossible.
So, do those details about Jesus make a difference in the celebration of Christmas? Does it matter if He is a myth, or not? Yes, because it means that He is exactly who He and the prophets claimed He would be. And as Isaiah the prophet wrote over 700 years before Jesus’ birth: “He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). Having your sins forgiven in any way other than that provided by Christ is way, way past impossible. In other words, mathematically He and only He can do that. Christmas is not about sparkle, it’s ultimately about salvation; and that matters.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” —JOHN 1:14